You never really know how bad something is until someone points it out.
And even though I know some of my consumption habits are bad for me, I keep on doing them subconsciously.
But while reading The Year Of Less, I realized how performing on autopilot can bring about terrible financial consequences.
Like often using shopping as a way to make yourself feel better which leads you to spend money that was intended for something else.
And as I read on, I realized that it is these seemingly innocent things that we do that cost us later on.
This is why as I completed the last pages of the book, I decided to take on the yearlong shopping ban challenge starting July 1, 2020.
In this post, I’m going to share the why behind my decision as well as how I’m going to see this through.
Why a yearlong shopping ban
You might be wondering why I would put myself up to doing such an insane challenge.
And give to you an answer, I’m just curious to see how it turns out.
Reading the book was like going on a journey to self-discovery with Cait Flanders as she took on everything life threw at her.
She learned to face her feelings, learned to live on less, and ended up launching a business through it all.
And although I know every person’s journey is different, I’m hopeful that this journey will teach me a lesson or two.
Here are the things I’m hoping to accomplish by the end of the yearlong shopping ban;
- To save more money towards my 18 months challenge to quit the day job
- Learn how to live on less and become more mindful with my spending
- Improve my self-discipline with money as well as with my personal life
- Adopt a minimal lifestyle where I learn to live off what I need
How to prepare for a yearlong shopping ban
In the last chapters of the book, Cait Flanders gives ten steps for anyone who wants to go on a shopping ban.
And these steps are what I have been using the past week to prepare for the challenge.
I’ll include the steps as they are from the book and how I went through them.
1. Declutter Your Home
This part is where you have to walk around your house and get rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose in your life.
By purpose that means if you cannot remember the last time you used it, then it has to go.
In my case, I share my house with roommates so the only thing I had to clean up were my personal belongings.
Getting rid of my belongings was actually a bittersweet exercise.
I got the chance to analyze everything I owned and got a good idea of the type of things I like spending money on.
It oddly made me feel lighter and more organized because I now know exactly what item I have and where it is.
I got rid of about 30% of everything.
2. Take inventory
Taking inventory was quite interesting.
But instead of listing out everything I owned before the decluttering, I took inventory of what I was left with.
Even though I knew I owned a lot of things, watching the numbers of each item was sobering.
I had two of many items because I had bought them on sales like toothpaste and lotion.
It now feels quite liberating knowing exactly what items I own.
And one of the best advantages of this part is that even when I see an item on sale now, I’m able to resist making the purchase because I know I don’t need it.
3. Write Three Lists
For this exercise, it’s time to create the rules of your yearlong shopping ban.
Going through the first two steps makes this step easier because by this point you already know what you need most and what you can live without.
The three lists needed are;
- The Essentials list – Allowed to buy whenever I run out
- The Non-Essentials list -Not allowed to buy during the ban
- The Approved shopping list- Specific things I’m allowed to buy during the shopping ban
Rules for my yearlong shopping ban
The Essentials List
This are the items I’m allowed to buy but only when I run out.
- Cosmetics and toiletries
- Items on the approved shopping list
- Cleaning products
- Purchases for house items with my roommates
- Hair products
The Non- Essentials list
This are the items that I can live without meaning I will not be purchasing these products for the next 12 months.
- Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories
- Machine coffee at the workplace
- Notebooks, planners, Books
- Household items for myself
- Food deliveries
The Approved Shopping list
- One outfit for special occasions including shoes
- Anything that needs to be replaced if it’s broken or too old
- Work outfit only if the ones I currently have get too old or worn out
- A gift for my upcoming birthday
- I’m allowed to have coffee or lunch with friends in reasonably priced restaurants
- For everything I replace, I have to toss out the old item
And I have to stay accountable on the blog by posting an update every new month indicating the percentage I was able to save that month.
4. Unsubscribe from all store newsletters
I’m doing this while I complete my digital declutter where I’m going through all my emails, apps and old images.
Aside from unsubscribing from the newsletter, I’ve removed all shopping apps and canceled all recurring subscriptions I don’t need.
If I’m not using it, why have it right?
On social media, since I already deleted my Instagram and Twitter accounts but if you still have your accounts, unfollow all your favorite stores.
The purpose of this step is to remove any and all temptations.
5. Set-Up a shopping ban savings account
The moment you stop shopping it’s impossible not to have money left over.
So what you do with this money is to to create a dedicated shopping ban account where all the money you keep all the money you would have used to shop.
For my account, I set up a mutual funds account because I intend to use that money for my travels and it’s nice to know it will be bearing profits.
Another thing you can do is to use the shopping ban money to buy items on your approved shopping list.
But if you happen to do the shopping ban, you can decide what you wish to spend the money on.
6. Tell everyone you know
I started by telling my family, that is my parents, and they were on board with the idea but they won’t be trying it themselves.
As for my friends, some are skeptical I can pull through with it and some are somewhat okay with it.
The point of telling everyone you know is because the more people you tell the more likely you are to stick to the shopping ban.
It’s also really great if you could find an accountability partner to call whenever you have the urge to shop so that they can stop you.
7. Replace costly habits with free/cheap
When it comes to hanging out with other people, things can get expensive fast.
And with this ban I’m concerned how long my friends will take hearing a NO every time they invite me for an activity.
But since we normally do the same activities every other day, I’ve started making a list of cheap and free activities to suggest.
Like going on a bike ride and hosting potlucks instead of going to restaurants every other day.
8. Pay attention to triggers and change the reaction
I’m an emotional shopper and sometimes I rely on retail therapy to feel better.
So with this shopping ban, I’m going to have to be extra mindful and observe my triggers.
Because once I know what makes me shop the way I do, then I’ll be able to change my reactions and adopt a new habit.
I’m carrying around my trustee notebook and making a point of writing down these emotions as they come.
9. Learn to live without or become more resourceful
A little while back I was obsessed with coffee, I couldn’t go a day without at least two cups.
And at that time when someone suggested I stay off coffee for a day or two I would look at them like they were crazy.
But would you believe it today I can go even a full week without a taste of coffee?
And the occasional cup I have is normally with a friend which is a big improvement.
That’s what this step is all about, learning to live without something.
10. Appreciate what you have
With every challenge we take on, it’s easy to just think negatively like how you are punishing yourself by taking on a ban.
So I started doing a journal where at the end of the day and first thing in the morning I list out things I’m grateful for.
And I have to say, I feel more upbeat and dwelling on the negative is not something I’m doing as often as I used to.
I highly recommend such a practice, whether you are doing a shopping ban or not.
From the testimonies I’ve read online, I know this shopping ban will be a great learning experience.
I will be posting my update next month August 8, 2020, with how my first month has been.
Do let me know if you’ll be taking on the challenge and don’t forget to subscribe.